QUESTION: I have a question about coffee grounds.
I've been collecting them for my flower garden. Can you
tell me in what way should they be used, and on which types
ANSWER: You can use them in several ways. Probably
the best method would be to compost them with other kitchen
scraps, grass clippings, leaves & etc. and use the compost
as a soil additive. Or you can incorporate them into the
soil where they will decompose and provide the plants (and
earthworms) with nutrition. And lastly, you can use them
as a mulch on the top of the ground.
They will be of benefit to any and all of your flowers.
QUESTION: Two years ago I topped my Dracaena (corn
plant) because it was too tall. I planted the top in my
flowerbed and when it started to grow again I potted it
and moved it onto my screen porch. Last week I noticed that
it was blooming and I have never seen one bloom before.
The plant I topped had been in our family for more than
20 years. Do you know why it is blooming? Do you know if
the dark color balls will open up and expose more color?
Will the plant die after it blooms or will it pup? The bloom
is a long spike type and is now growing about 2 inches a
day with a sticky residue. Can you send or direct me to
more information about this?
ANSWER: In ample light, the corn plant (Dracaena
fragrans 'Massangeana') may occasionally produce an extremely
fragrant flower. It is not a member of the bromeliad family,
so it should not die after flowering. When the flower is
spent, just cut off the spike. See this web site for more
information and a picture of the flower:
QUESTION: I understand that Hybrid Musks can take
a little more shade than other roses. Are any of these Hybrid
Musks better than the others in terms of thriving (and blooming)
in filtered sun?
ANSWER: In my opinion, the hybrid musk/shade connection
is a marketing hoax. I never noticed any difference personally.
That statement was dreamed up when I was at the Rose Emporium.
They ARE good, tough, low maintenance roses however. Mostly
lax mounding/climbing habits.
- Greg Grant, San Antonio Botanical Garden
QUESTION: I am interested in easy to manage "IPM"
systems for gardens (vegetables, flowers, grass, etc.) and
this information might be of interest to the Texas residents
as well. My children and I do a small "teaching"
garden with vegetables and I need some help on an integrated
IPM system. We use marigolds, ladybugs, bees, 7% wood ashes,
and for the rodents we have the cat and dog. Also, the past
residents of our home planted roses and we will not subject
the children and animals to the amount of chemicals needed
to keep them going. Is there anyway to help these flowers
with IPM? We do not need "perfect flowers", but
we may just have to cut them down.
ANSWER: The following Plantanswers information should
be of use to you in you IPM garden approach.
QUESTION: Our lawn is overrun with weeds, and we
have the opportunity to start over with grass to make a
real lawn. We have shallow, rocky soil, and no interest
in spending much time caring for a lawn. What is the best,
low maintenance, low water usage and low?growing grass for
ANSWER: I am afraid that with 'shallow, rocky soil
and no interest in caring for a lawn', you are just about
doomed to live with a weedy unkempt area. To have a weed
free, nice looking turf takes time, effort and in shallow
soil, a goodly amount of water. If the lawn is in full to
mostly sunshine, I recommend a Bermuda grass called 'Baby
Bermuda' for a low?growing grass. It is a hybrid that must
be established by sod. Once established, it will probably
survive on rainfall and will need less mowing than many
of the grasses. If you have a shady yard, then I recommend
one of the wide- bladed zoysias (El Toro or JaMur).
QUESTION: I am fatally allergic to bees, wasps, etc,
so I have never planted anything that flowers. One article
suggested "wind?pollinated" plants, such as orange
and lemon trees. I was really hoping to find perennial flowers
and shrubs. Other than going through a list of plants that
DO attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, I can't
think of any other solution. Is there any resource that
lists wind?pollinated plants? Also, I have heard that killer
bees are very close to this part of Texas, so I want to
be extra careful not to plant anything that will attract
these more aggressive types.
ANSWER: What you need to use are plants that are
ornamental yet do not bloom much. These include caladiums,
coleus, purple shield, copper plants, etc.
QUESTION: I have a 3-year-old (or older) saucer magnolia
that does not flower. What can I do to make it flower?
ANSWER: My resources say that the Magnolia soulangiana
(Saucer Magnolia) should bloom at age 3 to 5 years. Since
these things are not an open and shut science, I suspect
that patience is going to be the solution.
QUESTION: I purchased an ornamental pine tree for
Christmas this year, so I would not be responsible for killing
a tree at Christmas. It did really well through February,
but it is now getting real pale and turning brown. I realize
it must need some kind of fertilizer, but I do not know
what kind. It has been getting indirect light in my front
hallway. Can you tell me how to care for it before it dies.
ANSWER: You do not give enough information for me
to determine what kind of pine you have. I suspect that
it is a Norfolk Island Pine. Regardless, I think that your
tree is probably suffering from lack of light. You should
move it to a location where it gets a lot of light. You
can probably safely move it outside but just remember to
bring it back into a protected location is a freeze is predicted.
Any of the water soluble plant foods will be fine for it.
I recommend that you fertilize it each time you water it
using a very dilute mixture (perhaps 1 teaspoon per gallon
QUESTION: Is there any way I can keep my pear tree
from bearing pears or at least minimize how many pears there
ANSWER: There is not really a good way to keep it
from fruiting once it starts. However, you can drastically
thin the crop to reduce the amount of fruit you have. Take
a broom to the tree and simply "beat" the fruit
off about 4 weeks after bloom. This will reduce the remaining
fruit and they will be better quality. When you do this
you will set yourself up for a big crop the next year, so
it will be a continuous thing from year to year.
QUESTION: I love your Moon Planting Guides. I print
them out and give them to friends who also love them! I
was wondering where you get the specific information to
tell you when to plant certain vegetables. My grandmother
planted by the signs and her garden was always lush and
productive, so I would like to do an experiment to find
out if it really was from planting by the signs, or the
homemade fish emulsion and experience. I have gathered some
info from the Internet, but it just says basics like Cancer
and Scorpio are best for planting, Taurus is second best,
Leo is barren and shouldn't be planted in, plant above?ground
bearing crops in the light of the moon, root crops in the
dark of the moon, etc. I would like to know specifically
which signs and moon quarters are best for broccoli, which
for beans, which for flowers, etc. Your guides seem to be
the most specific info I've found.
ANSWER: I give the specific signs for each of the
vegetables, fruits and flowers. My source, which is also
listed on the Moon Planting site, is the 1999 Llewellyn's
Moon Sign Book and Gardening Almanac. It is available in
major bookstores or can be ordered from Llewellyn Publications,
P. O. box 64383 Dept. 941-5, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383 U.S.A.
The publication number is ISBN 1-56718-941-5. Enjoy your
lunatical gardening adventures!!
QUESTION: My rubber tree (as well as a palm) are
getting much too tall for my living room. I know there is
a method of cutting a branch and connecting it to a shorter
branch. What is it called and how is it done? Will it be
possible for me to get information on how to do this?
ANSWER: What you describe is called 'grafting'.
However, I do not think this is what you want to do with
either your rubber tree or your palm. The rubber tree (Ficus
elastica) can be reduced in height by merely cutting off
the top portion to the height you desire. This will force
outside branches and one of these can be trained to be your
central leader. Or, if you cut to one that is already growing,
it can be so trained. By pinching out the end of this central
leader, you can make the plant bushier. If you wish to root
the top portion and start a new plant, you can 'air layer'
this portion. See the instructions at this web site:
You should be aware that all Ficus plants exude a white
milky sap when cut or wounded. You need to protect the floor
and also try not to get the sap on your skin as some people
are allergic to it.